The Met Office’s outlook for the UK summer 2014

9 06 2014

There are headlines in the media today which suggest the Met Office is forecasting that this summer will be one of the hottest on record. However, the Met Office hasn’t issued a forecast along these lines.

The news stories are based on information taken from our three month outlook for contingency planners, so let’s take a closer look at that.

What does our three month outlook say?

As we’ve discussed previously, this outlook assesses the level of risk connected to five different scenarios for both temperature and rainfall for the whole season. It’s a bit like the science-equivalent of factoring the odds on a horse race.

However, as with any horse race, it’s always possible that the favourite won’t win – so these probability scenarios have to be used in the right context. This is why they’re useful for planners and businesses who plan ahead based on risk, but not that useful for the general public who would like to know which fortnight in August will have the best weather for a holiday.

The current outlook for the whole of the June-July-August period for the whole of the UK says the chance of the warmest scenario happening is 25% and the chance that the period will fall into the coldest scenario is 10%.

So, while the current three month outlook suggests there is a higher chance of above average temperatures than below average, it does not tell us about the type of weather we may see.

Above average temperatures could be reached by milder nights, as can occur in summer in cloudy and wet conditions (for interest, average maximum temperatures for the UK in summer are about 18.6C and average minimum temps are about 10.2C). There is also only a small forecast signal for summer rainfall and therefore, we cannot make any strong assumptions about the weather we’ll see.

We saw a good example of this recently – the UK has just had the third warmest spring on record but the season didn’t have long stretches of blue skies and high temperatures. Instead we saw mixed weather with a lot of mild nights which contributed to the overall above-average conditions.

So, what will the summer be like?

Obviously there’s always a lot of interest to know what summer will be like – how hot will it be, how much rain will we get and where and when will it fall?

Our 30-day outlook (under the text forecast tab) provides a look ahead to the general type of weather we’re likely to see in the UK.

Currently it says that after today, the weather is expected to settle down with many areas having some warm sunshine, although showers are still likely in the northwest.

From mid June to early July, the indications are that the weather will be close to what is climatologically normal for this time of year – giving us a tendency for occasional spells of unsettled weather interspersed with fine and warm spells, much as we have seen recently.

If there is any sign of significantly hot spells or heavy downpours in the forecast, we will keep the country up to date through our forecasts and warnings. Our ‘Get Ready for the Great British Summer’ webpages also provide useful tips and information to make the most of the summer months, whatever the weather.





Unsettled weather to come – but no repeat of ‘St Jude’ in sight

29 10 2013

There have been a few mentions in today’s media of another storm coming in for this weekend – with the Daily Express suggesting that a ‘new deadly storm’ is on the way.

It’s fair to say we are expecting a spell of unsettled autumnal weather over the next week, with some strong winds and heavy rain possible – but comparisons with the ‘St Jude’s Day storm’ (as some in the media have called it) are wide of the mark.

Currently forecasts suggest that we will see several low pressure systems affecting the country over the next week – which is a fairly typical picture for UK weather at this time of year.

These could bring gale force winds at times to some areas, but we don’t expect gusts to be anything like the exceptionally strong winds we saw on Monday. In fact, the winds are more likely to be similar to those we saw during the day last Sunday – the day before the big storm.

Of course, even gale force gusts do bring some risks and the Met Office will closely watch developments to assess any impacts.

The low pressure systems coming through over the next week are likely to lead to some rough seas and big waves around some coasts, as well as some heavy rain.

The Met Office, Environment Agency and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) will be working together to monitor the risk of any impacts from these over the next few days.

Given the outlook for unsettled weather, we’d advise people to stay up to date with the latest forecasts and warnings from the Met Office and to sign up to receive free flood warnings from the Environment Agency and SEPA website.





Sorry, no heatwave in sight

8 08 2013

An article on the front page of today’s Daily Express suggests that there is a new UK heat wave in the offing for next week and temperatures could soar into the 90s °F (32-37 °C).

This is not a forecast from the Met Office and, sadly for those who enjoy the heat, there’s no sign that we will see a return to the prolonged hot and sunny weather we saw in July.

In the Express, the article talks about high temperatures on the continent – up to 104 °F (40 °C). This may be the case in parts of continental Europe, but that doesn’t mean we’ll see temperatures like that in the UK or even a heat wave of any description. For that continental air to impact us, you’d need a very specific weather pattern and – looking at several of the world’s leading weather prediction models – there is no sign of that at the moment.

However, we do expect to see periods of decent, sunny weather over the next ten days or so (including today and tomorrow for some parts of the country). These will be mixed in with periods of more unsettled, wetter and windier weather. In fact, it looks like fairly typical mixed weather for the UK at this time of year.

In terms of temperatures, currently it looks like our highs will continue to be in the mid 20s °C – with the warmest weather being in south eastern parts of the country. Elsewhere temperatures are likely to peak in the high teens to low 20s °C.

You can see the outlook to the end of August and in to September on our website.





Responding to more ‘winter weather’ headlines

17 11 2012

We wrote only last week that it seems that it is the time of year again for colourful headlines about an impending big freeze.

We had them at this time last year, which prompted our Chief Executive to write an opinion piece in The Times. Now we have very similar stories again, with the front page of the Daily Express declaring last week ‘Coldest winter freeze on way’ and warning that temperatures are set to plunge as low as -15C and again a week on we have another front page from the Daily Express which declares ‘Coldest winter for 100 years on way‘. with the UK expected to grind to a halt within weeks.

These longer range forecasts for December and January have not come from the Met Office and a look at our current 30 day forecast provides perhaps a more measured assessment of our weather prospects to the middle of December:

As is usual, there are uncertainties in the forecast for this period. Whilst changeable conditions are considered more likely initially, some signs are beginning to emerge for more settled conditions to develop over parts of Europe. The signal is that these conditions may extend towards the UK during the first part of December. So, although there are no strong indications of any particular weather type predominating, on balance, colder and drier-than-average conditions are favoured over the recent mild and damp weather many areas have experienced.

What is clear from the forecast is that although there are some signs that after a rather unsettled period, the weather may become colder and drier than we have seen recently there is still a lot of uncertainty in the forecast which again the article has failed to pick up on and report to its readers.

The science does not exist to make detailed forecasts for temperature and snowfall for the end of this month, let alone for December or even the winter as a whole with these types of forecasts only able to provide an indication of how our weather might change, or be different from normal, (i.e. warmer, colder, wetter, drier) across the whole UK or even Europe

Ultimately, we’re heading into winter and it is perfectly possible that we will see the whole range of weather that we get in winter at some point over the coming months, including snow and freezing temperatures, but also heavy rain, windy weather and mild conditions too.

Our five day forecasts and warnings will provide you with the best possible guidance on any periods of cold weather, frost or the likelihood of snow, giving detailed local information across the UK to help you make the most of the weather over the coming months.





What’s in store this winter? Responding to the headlines

12 11 2012

It seems that it is the time of year for colourful headlines about an impending big freeze. We had them at this time last year, which prompted our Chief Executive to write an opinion piece in The Times.

Now we have very similar stories again, with the front page of the Daily Express declaring ‘Coldest winter freeze on way’ and warning that temperatures are set to plunge as low as -15C.

There have been other stories elsewhere along similar lines, with some saying that the Met Office is briefing the Government about a cold winter ahead.

So what are the facts behind the headlines?

Some of the stories have taken a cue from parts of our current 30-day forecast. Today’s forecast for 26 November to 10 December reads as follows:

As is usual, there are uncertainties in the forecast for this period, but there are signs that the changeable conditions will continue through the start of this forecast period. There is also a signal for temperatures to be close to or just below the seasonal average. Into December, although there are no strong indications that any particular weather type is going to dominate, on balance colder, drier conditions than at present are favoured, rather than milder, wetter weather, especially across the southern half of the UK.

However, perhaps what the newspapers have failed to pick up on and report to their readers is that there is still a great deal of uncertainty about exactly what weather we will see – as there often is when looking at timescales of over five days ahead.

The science does not exist to make detailed forecasts for temperature and snowfall for the end of this month, let alone for December or even the winter as a whole.

With regards to us ‘briefing the Government on a cold winter’, this is related to our three monthly outlook for contingency planners.

This is a complex product designed to help contingency planners making long-term strategic decisions based on risk exposure. However, it’s not useful for most other people as it doesn’t give one forecast for what’s ahead – rather it outlines potential scenarios and their associated probabilities.

It’s worth noting that while contingency planners use our three month outlook to inform long-term decisions, they make their operational decisions on our five day forecasts and warnings.

These will always provide the best possible guidance on any periods of cold weather, frost or the likelihood of snow, giving detailed local information across the UK.

Ultimately, we’re heading into winter and we expect winter to be colder than the rest of the year – but it’s too early to say exactly what temperatures we can expect or where and when we might see snow.





Met Office in the News: “Tropical Storms to hit Wimbledon”?

26 06 2012

There have been several articles in the Daily Express over the last couple of days reporting ‘Summer is on the way at last’ with temperatures set to reach 34 Celsius this week and ‘Tropical storms set for Wimbledon’.

These headlines are unfortunately wide of the mark and rather misleading, both by implying that hot and sunny weather is on the way and that Wimbledon will be hit by tropical storms.

Although the Met Office has spoken to the Daily Express, the forecasts featured in the stories have not come from the Met Office, but from an independent forecaster.

The Met Office forecast for this week is for a couple of days of warm, humid and rather cloudy weather across much of the UK, with temperatures reaching 26 or 27 Celsius in any sunshine. For more detail you can find the latest weather forecast on our website.

It is our understanding that the temperatures of 34 deg C referenced in the articles are actually feels like temperatures taken from the website of an independent forecaster rather than actual air temperature. This is not made clear within the article and is potentially misleading.

The inference – through the lack of reference to the original source of the forecasts – that these forecasts have come from the Met Office is very misleading for the public, and potentially damages the reputation not only of the Met Office, but the wider weather forecasting community.

The Met Office is a world leader in meteorological science and our forecasts are recognised the world over as some of the best in the world. We are proud to be trusted to give the best possible guidance on the weather by the public and we report the weather exactly as it is.





Met Office in the Media: 22 February 2012

22 02 2012

There is some mild weather for the time of year on its way tomorrow with temperatures climbing to the mid teens across the UK. Some newspapers, such as The Sun, the Daily Mail and the Daily Express,  have been suggesting that the UK will be warmer than Hawaii tomorrow. Although this would be very nice, I am afraid to say this is not quite true, with temperatures in Honolulu predicted to be up to 26 deg C on Thursday.

Although it will be mild for many, it will still be mainly cloudy with further light rain in the west. Some mist and fog is also likely across western coasts and hills. The best chance of bright or sunny spells developing will be to the east of country, especially in the shelter of hills. Where the sun comes out, temperatures are likely to be very mild for late winter.

Top temperatures on Thursday are expected to be around 16 or 17 deg C in parts of central and eastern England, while  Scotland is likely to see its warmest spots in the east, where it could reach up to 15 deg C.

So, although Thursday will be a very mild day for the time of year and while some places may see some bright spells, it certainly will not be wall to wall sunshine. Unfortunately, it will also be nothing like Hawaii – more like a mild, pleasant late winter day in the UK.

The mild temperatures fall away a little as we head into Friday and the weekend as rain sinks south on Friday, with brighter, colder conditions to the north. Most places are expected to be dry on Saturday but rain is likely to return to western parts later in the day and on Sunday.

Forecast maximum temperature ranges for the next 5 days for Manchester from the Met Office beta website

Elsewhere there has been widespread coverage of the findings of the Science and Technology report on The Science of the Met Office which endorsed the trust the nation has in the Met Office to provide forecasts and warnings when it matters. Coverage has focused on the reports recommendations for additional computer resource at the Met Office. We welcome the committee’s recommendation; all witnesses highlighted the significant socio-economic benefits which could be gained from increased supercomputer capacity. Increased supercomputing resource would enable existing research findings to be used in the creation of weather and climate predictions, helping to improve the accuracy, reliability and relevance of forecasts on all timescales

However, it is important to recognise that funding for additional supercomputing resource has not been secured and the figures in the S&T committee report are purely recommendations. The Government recognises the importance and value of investment in supercomputing capacity to improve weather and climate modelling. We will continue to work closely with BIS and other stakeholders across Government, to support the development of the business case for the next generation of supercomputing capacity.

Related articles





Met Office in the Media: 09 December 2011

9 12 2011

The severe weather that affected much of the north of the UK over the last day or so has just shown how important accurate weather forecasts are in keeping people safe and well. Our forecasts were in deed very accurate and last night Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon said: “The conditions are exactly as predicted when the Met Office issued its red warning.”

Equally important however is clearly communicating our weather forecasts to make sure that the nation knows where and when severe weather will hit and then what the impacts may be.  We work with agencies, such as local and national governments, the police and fire service as well as emergency planners to make sure they clearly know what the weather has in store, but we still need to keep the public informed.

We best do this with our partners at the BBC and ITV, where our weather forecasts reach many millions of people every day. These forecasts over the last few days have been extremely clear, accurate and informative, ensuring we all knew what to expect. Similarly working with national and local newspapers and radio stations across the land the nation was prepared for severe weather when it really mattered.

Related articles





Met Office in the Media – 25 November 2011

25 11 2011

There are a couple of interesting articles about the weather in today’s press.

First of all, in the Daily Telegraph, a contradictory story with a headline which claims we shouldn’t “expect a big freeze this Christmas“. The introduction goes on to say the Met Office is predicting “unseasonable weather” – when actually, we are predicting normal weather for the time of year.

The Met Office quote further down the article gives a more accurate picture: “Last December saw a very prolonged period with wave after wave of cold spells and snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures. Rather than that, it looks like we’re in for a mixed, unsettled December this year, with some cold spells but also milder spells.”

To clarify, last year we had the coldest December in more than 100 years. The Met Office forecast for 30 days ahead, which still does not cover the whole month of December, suggests that we are unlikely to see a repeat of the persistent and extreme cold and snowy conditions that we saw last year.

Instead the current Met Office forecast is for much more normal conditions for the time of year, with periods of wind and rain interspersed with colder spells bringing some overnight frost and a chance of snow – mostly over the higher ground in Scotland. As always we will keep the British public warned and informed when severe weather is expected to affect the UK through our 5 day forecasts and our National Severe Weather Warning Service.

There’s also an article in the Daily Express which suggests Scotland will be “blanketed” with snow. There has been some snowfall in Scotland overnight and this morning, but – as forecast by the Met Office – this has generally been on high ground above 400m. We are expecting further snowfalls over the next few days, but again only on the high ground in Scotland.

 





Winter Forecast?

28 10 2010

Several newspapers have reported today that the Met Office is predicting a mild winter. As was widely reported earlier in the year, following public research, the Met Office no longer issues long-range forecasts for the general public, instead providing a monthly outlook on our website.

Despite this, the Daily Express has published a story ‘Winter to be mild predicts Met Office’ and the Daily Telegraph has reported ‘Met Office data suggests mild winter’. These media reports have based their interpretation for the coming winter on a single probability map on our website. However they have been selective about the information they have used and you should not take these interpretations as a guide to the coming winter. Instead we would recommend using our monthly outlook and short range forecasts.

The forecasts on our website are provided to support international collaborators in seasonal forecasting. They require expert interpretation and the need to be combined with a range of other information before you can make a seasonal forecast.








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 6,053 other followers

%d bloggers like this: